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Healthy Soils in Eastern Washington

Managing for Healthy Soils

The Foundation of Healthy Farms

A one day workshop on February 8, 2018 from 7:45 am – 6:00 pm at Banyans on the Ridge-Pavillion.

View this page in pdf format (pdf).

View registration details.

We have been approved for 8.5 CCA credits.

7:45 – 8:30 | Registration, welcome, and introduction.

Kendall Kahl
8:30 - 9:20 | Cropping System Management and Soil Health Impacts

Kendall Kahl: Research Associate at the University of Idaho in the department of Soil and Water Systems and at the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District

Kendall will discuss the effect of alternative cropping systems on soil health properties in the Palouse. The focus will be the impact of cropping system management on nutrient cycling, soil carbon, soil structure, pH, and earthworm populations for a long-term no-till trial, diversified crop rotations in conservation till systems, and an organic reduced-till wheat-based systems trial.

Karen Sanguinet
9:25 - 10:15 | The Roots of Soil Health

Dr. Karen Sanguinet: Assistant Professor at Washington State University Department of Crops and Soils

Karen will present on the importance of considering the below-ground component of cropping system management. She will discuss how the presence of roots and their various structures affect soil erosion, soil structure, soil biology, and soil carbon.

10:15 – 10:30 | Break

10:30 – 11:20 | A Legacy of Erosion by Wind and Water: Managing for the Future

Brenton Sharratt
10:30 - 10:55 | Dr. Brenton Sharratt - Research Leader for Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research Unit with the USDA-ARS.

Wind erosion is of particular concern in the Columbia Plateau due to the emission of fine particles in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health. Loss of soil, nitrogen, and carbon during the erosion process are also of concern to soil health and sustainability of farming systems. Information will be presented on soil and nutrient losses associated with wind erosion and management strategies that can be used to control erosion.

Erin Brooks
10:55 - 11:20 | Dr. Erin Brooks - Associate Professor in the University of Idaho Department of Soil & Water Science.

Growers in the Palouse must manage around a long legacy of soil erosion which has removed and redistributed topsoil. In the high precipitation, annual cropping region growers must manage excessive water. Recently many growers have not even been able to seed a spring crop due to high water precipitation and wet, waterlogged soils. In this presentation, we will be discussing the management options to minimize soil erosion and the cascading consequences of wet winters in the high precipitation region of the Palouse.

Dave Huggins
11:25 - 12:15 | Testing Soil Health in Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho

Dr. Dave Huggins of the USDA-ARS Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research Unit.

Dave will be speaking on recent developments in testing soil health. Dr. Huggins will present his latest findings using the Solvita and Haney tests. He will also discuss other key physical and chemical tests that growers can use to increase their understanding of soil health, and why that information is important to optimizing cropping system performance.

12:15 – 12:50 | Lunch!

12:50 – 2:10 | Panel Featuring Specialists from RMA, the Palouse Conservation District, and NRCS

This panel will discuss the efforts of each of these organizations to promote soil health. The representative from each organization will cover what farmers need to know about their programs and opportunities for partnership to improve soil health on their farms.

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson has served as the District Conservationist in Moscow (Latah Co.) since 2011. After graduating from WSU with his degree in Agriculture, he has been an NRCS employee for 31 years. Throughout his career with the NRCS, he has been working with growers to advance soil health on their farms with the help of farm bill programs.
Tami Stubbs
Tami Stubbs is the Conservation Agriculture and Farmed Smart Coordinator for the Palouse Conservation District. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy and a Master's degree in Soil Science from Washington State University with focus on soil quality and soil microbiology. Tami works with growers to coordinate enrollment into direct seed, precision agriculture and related conservation agriculture programs. She also works with the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association on implementation of the Farmed Smart sustainable agriculture certification program.
Cara McNab
Cara M. McNab is the Deputy Director, Spokane Regional Office, Risk Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cara began her career with the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Agency in 2008, then joined the Risk Management Agency as the Director of Appeals and Litigation in 2011 in the Washington, DC headquarters. In 2012, Cara moved to the Inland Northwest where she enjoys more directly serving producers through the regional office. Cara grew up in Michigan and earned a B.S. in Environmental Policy at Michigan State University. She later went back to school to earn a J.D. at Wayne State University Law School. She then attended the University of Arkansas School of Law to gain a more specialized education in agricultural law, earning an LL.M in Agricultural and Food Law. Cara Spent the summer between her J.D. and LL.M. programs as an Agricultural Fellow for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, where she worked on the 2008 Farm Bill.
Leslie Michael
2:10 - 3:00 | Establishing Cover Crops in Dryland Cropping Systems

Leslie Michel is a Soil Scientist for Okanogan Conservation District and M.S. student in Soil Science at Washington State University.

Leslie will discuss the successes, lessons learned and project outcomes from 4 years of cover crop and grazing trials on farms in Douglas, Grant, Lincoln, and Okanogan Counties. She will present data from Decagon soil moisture sensors, soil samples, above ground biomass and yield. This large-scale trial conducted by the Okanogan Conservation District provides a coordinated approach to planting cover crops in 8-12" rainfall regions.

3:00 – 3:15 | Break

3:15 - 4:05 | Soil Acidification and Alleviation

Dr. Haiying Tao, Assistant Professor of Soil Fertility, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University.

Dr. Tao will discuss soil pH, an important parameter of soil health. The topic will cover why fertilizer applications can induce soil acidification. We will also discuss how soil acidification alters soil chemistry, fertility, and soil microbes, which in turn, have major effects on soil health and crop production.

4:15 – 5:00 | An Overview of Soil Health Policy and Programs in the US and Washington State.

William Pan
Dr. William Pan, Professor of Cropping Systems, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University.
Chad Kruger
Chad Kruger, Director of Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center, Puyallup Research & Extension Center, and Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.

After discussions of the importance of sub-soil soil health by Dr. William Pan, Chad Kruger will discuss the concern for soil health by state governor Inslee and WA state senators including WSDA’s support for soil health improvement via Specialty Crop Block Grant program, and the Dairy Nutrient Management Program. Finally, the discussion will include current soil health research efforts by WSU.

5:00 – 6:00 pm | Conclusion and evaluation time.

A no-host bar and social hour will be available until 6 pm.